Promoting a gender responsive workplace: The IRM and IIU embark on an inclusive gender training

  • Authorship
    Charlene Sardoma
  • Article type Blog
  • Publication date 20 Dec 2022

The Independent Redress Mechanism (IRM) carries on with its gender journey this year. The team, together with colleagues from the Independent Integrity Unit (IIU), embarked on a gender responsiveness training. Held in three separate sessions on November 28, 30, and December 1, the training was a safe avenue to learn, share, and explore different perspectives and practices around gender to help improve both units’ mandates in servicing all stakeholders.

The training was conducted in line with the IRM’s long-affirmed commitment to GCF’s Gender Policy. Earlier this year, the IRM published the revised version of its own Gender Strategy Note, which has laid an integral foundation for the unit’s work in integrating a gender responsive approach when handling complaints, outreach, capacity building, advisory, and requests for reconsideration. It is fundamental in looking at multi-level and complex case scenarios that the unit could encounter, complete with actionable plans and timeframes.

The training on gender responsiveness in the workplace is complementary to this key work. While the IRM’s Gender Strategy Note highlights the team’s measures on gender responsive engagements with stakeholders, including complainants, consultants and accredited entities, the training underlined the importance of starting gender sensitivity internally - within the team.

The training, facilitated by gender equality consultant Maria Reglero who has a broad experience in global organizations, focusing on women’s and children’s rights, gender equality frameworks and equality strategies and training, served as an entryway to integrate the gender lens into both interpersonal communication between team members and a more gender responsive organizational structure.

During the first day of the training, participants discussed key concepts surrounding gender and sexuality, looking at global data and trends. They further discussed gender-responsive solutions in the workplace, including a designated enclosed space for nursing mothers, equal proximity to managers amongst females and males, and a flexible dress code.

Gender responsiveness, as defined by UNICEF, is “paying attention to the unique needs of females, valuing their perspectives, respecting their experiences, understanding developmental differences between girls and boys, women and men, and ultimately empowering girls and women.” Being gender responsive should be seen and felt in an organization. In addition to the Gender Action Plan and Gender Policy on programmes and projects, a staff-centered Gender Strategy or Policy could also be developed to ensure the wellbeing of staff and their ability to engage with all stakeholders. Some initiatives like Women at GCF and social events with the LGBTQIA+ are positive steps in creating an inclusive institutional culture.

The training then had participants take a deep dive into gender-related biases and how to approach them through inclusive language and activities. Colleagues from both independent units discussed possible policies that could address issues such as gender pay gaps, networking opportunities, and diversity.

In promoting a gender-equal workplace, participants discussed the importance of having relevant data. Its availability and accessibility could not only foster an open and transparent environment but also stimulate improvement through policy development. While some companies tend to boast a gender-equal workforce, this alone does not tell the full story. In some circumstances, those in higher or supervisorial positions tend to be predominantly men while women find themselves in administrative or support roles. Disaggregated data could help illuminate gaps in hiring, promotions, staff retention and turnover. Bettering these systems in the organization could then support institutional growth and staff performance and wellbeing.

Participants also discussed how women can be impacted by gender expectations and outlooks with certain qualities and roles being attributed to males and females. A female manager could be labeled ‘bossy’ for insisting on a certain workload, while a male manager could be hailed as merely assertive. In the same sense, a male supervisor might have a harder time connecting with team members if expectations around socialization and staff wellbeing are viewed as a woman-only activity.

Behaviors and linguistics were tackled on the third and last day of the training. By recognizing several gender biases, participants were able to identify relevant gender responsive actions. From the simple change in addressing the team from “Good morning, guys!” to “Good morning, everyone,” to rotating the responsibility among staff in planning birthday celebrations or taking meeting minutes.

The training has been fruitful in knowledge-sharing and learning, providing participants with the opportunity to challenge perceptions on gender and discuss how to improve workplace culture and behavior. The GCF strives to achieve a diverse and inclusive workforce and learnings from such gender-responsive initiatives can positively impact our personal lives, our immediate workplaces, and our relationships with stakeholders.

The IRM’s gender journey continues, and hand in hand, we hope everyone walks with us.